Chronic Pain Relief
Are you suffering from persistent pain that is limiting your physical abilities? If so, physical therapy treatments can help you find relief.
Pain does not always work in traditional ways. Sometimes it can linger for days, weeks, or even months due to an underlying condition. When pain persists for three months or longer, that is referred to as “chronic pain.” If you are suffering from chronic pain and you are looking for relief, call your closest Merrimack Valley Physical Therapy to schedule your initial evaluation.
Chronic vs. acute pain
Acute pain can be defined as pain that goes away on its own in a few hours, days, or weeks. If you accidentally sprain your wrist and you have to wear a brace for a few weeks until it is healed, you would be experiencing acute pain.
Chronic pain is a constant discomfort that lasts for 3-6 months (or longer) despite your best efforts to relieve it. There are several reasons why people may experience chronic pain. It is one of the most common reasons for seeking medical help. It can greatly hinder your quality of life by limiting your mobility, creating a dependence on prescription drugs, or even causing anxiety/depression. However, this can all be avoided with the help of physical therapy.
Why do I have chronic pain?
Most cases of chronic pain stem from the musculoskeletal system. This includes your muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissues. Chronic pain can appear in the form of back pain, joint pain, nerve pain, or headaches. It most commonly occurs due to one of the following causes:
- Overuse Injuries – Overuse injuries are very common. They can occur in any part of the body that is used repetitively in your day-to-day life. For example, the way you stand, walk, work, and exercise can all take a toll on your body. It results in overuse injuries if you are not using proper techniques. This can result in damage to your joints and muscles, thus causing chronic pain. Physical therapy can help you learn how to properly move your body in your everyday life, in order to avoid these issues.
- Accidents – Any accident can lead to chronic pain, whether it occurs in an automobile, workplace, or your own home. According to a 2016 statistic found by OSHA, workplace injuries happen to approximately 2.9 out of every 100 employees. Additionally, a study published in a journal called Pain determined that 21% of people involved in motor vehicle accidents develop chronic widespread pain in the weeks following their accident. This pain does not go away on its own, but seeking the help of a physical therapist can help alleviate it.
- Surgery – Surgical procedures are sometimes unavoidable. While they may be necessary for alleviating certain conditions you are facing, the recovery period can be just as painful. Surgical repair of an area of the body is enough to correct a structural problem, but we often compensate in our movement for the pain we experience. Weeks, months, or even years of compensatory movement often causes additional pain after surgery if the movement is not corrected. Physical therapy offers post-surgical rehabilitation services that can help speed up recovery time, relieve pain, and reduce the risk of chronic pain in the future.
- Disease – There are many diseases that can lead to chronic pain, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, shingles, neuropathy as a result of diabetes, and more. These can all result in chronic pain, which can be alleviated through physical therapy treatments.
How can physical therapy relieve chronic pain?
Physical therapy is often associated with post-surgical procedures; however, it can also be used to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic pain. It is true that physical therapy can help decrease scar tissue and shorten the time spent recovering after surgery. However, one of the main goals of physical therapy is pain relief, which can be applied to any source of pain, whether it is post-operative or not.
Physical therapists are highly-trained movement experts who can diagnose physical problems and any underlying structural causes surrounding those problems. They conduct thorough physical evaluations with each of their patients, analyze weak areas of the body, focus on places with a limited range of motion, and look for any imbalances in gait or standing. All of this helps them identify the underlying causes of chronic pain.
Once the evaluation is complete, your physical therapist will create a treatment plan unique to your specific needs. This may include targeted exercise to increase strength, stretching to improve balance, or manual therapy to relieve pain, decrease scar tissue, and improve movement. Your treatment plan will incorporate in-clinic treatments, as well as at-home treatments to ensure that you are remaining healthy and active at all times. If you are interested in relieving your chronic pain through physical therapy, contact Merrimack Valley Physical Therapy today. Any of our dedicated physical therapists would be happy to meet with you and get you started on the right track toward long-lasting pain relief.